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Get Paid for Your Opinion

Did you know you can get paid for your opinion? Yes, instead of just sounding off to your brother-in-law about why you prefer beef burgers to soy burgers or how long you waited to have your knee operation, you could get involved in a focus group and get paid to air your opinion about products, policies and even educational choices.

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Getting Involved

Getting Involved

Some market research companies, such as Corporate Research Associates (CRA), randomly call individuals until they find people that match a client’s target demographic. But many market research companies, including Toronto-based Quality Response and Vancouver-based MD Analytics, allow you to sign up to participate in a focus group by filling out a form at the company’s web site. You don’t necessarily need to live in the same city where the head office is based because many market research companies run focus groups in various Canadian urban centres.
Once you’ve signed up, the company will contact you if you fit the profile of the consumer a client wants to learn more about. (They may also do a preliminary interview. So if the market researcher is conducting a focus group for a baby formula client, it may pass on a 20-year-old single, beer-chugging male, but be a whole lot more interested in a 30-year-old mom who drives a mini-van.)
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The Topic

The Topic

Many focus groups focus on consumer products. You can be asked about your impressions of packaging, ad campaigns or to do a survey and take a taste test.

But there are other types of focus groups that look for input on proposed government policies or delve into attitudes about the reputation of an organization, explains Don Mills, president and CEO of CRA.

Other companies, such as MD Analytics, conduct healthcare research on topics such as diabetes, asthma, and Alzheimer’s. Consumers with the condition or disease are selected for the group and may be asked questions about awareness of particular medication, their experience at the pharmacy or their relationship with their doctor.

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The Session

The Session

Luckily, you won’t have to play hookey from work to participate. Sessions are typically held weekday evenings, but sometimes on weekends; they usually last one-and-a-half to two hours.

Many sessions are held at a research facility. Expect to be in a group of between eight and 10 people are usually in a group. The format could be a roundtable discussion, but it might also be a one-to-one interview, taste test, or even a shop-along outside the facility (evaluating a shopping experience), notes Joan Woodburn, president of Quality Response.

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While the clients never learn your personal details (name, contact info), you need to be comfortable speaking your mind in front of others. “We look for people who have an opinion and have the willingness and ability to share their thoughts,” says Mills. Don’t be shy about expressing their opinions, even when they were negative.

You’ll also most likely be asked to sign a release to allow the researchers to video and/or audio tape the session. Don’t worry, it won’t appear on YouTube. It just helps the researchers prepare a report for the client. Also, representatives from the client company often observe the session from behind one-way glass.



Afterwards, you’ll be compensated for your time. Quality Response pays $65/hr to $125, depending on length of the session and whether “homework,” such as shopping, is involved. CRA pays between $60 and $75 for two hours. MD Analytics’ incentives range from $75 to $150 per session.

Because it’s decent money, some people are tempted to sign up for as many focus groups as possible. But usually market research companies limit participation to once every six months. “It’s a way to earn some extra cash; not make a living,” Woodburn says.


Market Research Companies


Corporate Research Associates

Quality Response

Metroline Research
[email protected]

TNS Global

Research House

Academica Group

MD Analytics

CRC Research
CRC Research
[email protected]


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